From Racing to Arena

Skinny, hard to condition, nervous thoroughbred hacks.


Two of the unfortunate side effects of breathing problems are often an increase in
nervousness particularly when at events and , or , an apparent inability to convert feed into body condition.


Nervous / excitable TB hack


Horses that are trained and or raced with breathing problems often come to resent both of these duties. They exhibit their resentment by becoming ‘wound up’ , nervous , reluctant to go onto racetrack and pulling or charging in work. Often their behaviour ‘at home’ is quite the opposite. Unfortunately the association between gatherings of many horses ( A race meeting) and breathing pain or discomfort is often firmly imprinted. Then as much as the demands of pony club are much less likely to cause the same discomfort as racing, in the horses mind any large gathering is suggestive of a race day and its behaviour will mirror its thoughts. It is possible that given the passing of time and with no further episodes of discomfort this behaviour will retreat. However there are some where this doesn’t happen. Here it may be better to deal with the primary problem ( breathing) and then hopefully look forward to having a ‘happy’ relaxed mate!


If purchasing a racehorse off the track it would be well worth your while to either go along to a race meeting and observe its behaviour or if already retired ask stable staff about its raceday behaviour. This behaviour is likely to be repeated on pony club days!








Ahern procedure horses and their ‘after (racing) life’.


There are also the horses that have had their breathing problems dealt with during their racing careers.

Should I be concerned about this?

Well firstly you should enquire as to:


(i) the type of breathing problem

(ii) the type of surgical procedure performed

(iii)  the surgical result ( successful or not)

(iv) any side effects of surgery  e.g. coughing, difficult swallowing, loss of voice, nasal return of feed or water.            

(v) again the horses raceway behaviour. Relaxed or other!



In the case of horses having had ‘Ahern procedures’ ( Oral Palatopharyngoplasty) the incidence of post operative coughing is extremely low and on the flip side the benefits by way of:


(i) Improved appetite and ability to carry weight

(ii) Improved coat condition

(iii) Attitudes to work described as both ‘well’ and relaxed.

(iv) a lack of association between racedays and breathing discomfort  which applies to all horse events or gatherings.


Over the years these horses have continued to achieve in their post race, equestrian careers. In particular the advantage of maximal airways for cross country eventing is obvious!